Self-Preservation Under Narcissistic Abuse
I don't see how it can be so difficult for many people to see what is so wrong about denying a person (or any sentient creature) the right to use any means necessary to protect and defend themselves from abuse. All it takes is a little thought. And empathy. Just put yourself in the victim's place and then ask yourself how it would feel to have to bend over for it. More important, ask yourself what that would MEAN.
It's the MEANING in things that many people prefer to unsee.
There are many issues over which reasonable people may disagree, but this is not one of them. There is a right and wrong answer here. Those who prefer the wrong one just disregard all reasoning to the contrary with the old "Yes but...." That is invalid. Those people lose the argument hands down, because they don't have valid answers for their opponents' points.
I don't throw my pearls before swine, but here is an effort to explain for those who honestly haven't seen enough of life yet to understand but are willing to understand.
I warn you that this is an unpleasant subject.
Examples speak louder than words.
Why do you suppose that, until not so long ago, a convicted criminal in Europe had to approach his executioner, fall upon his knees before his executioner, and pay the executioner to torture him to death?
What sick mind dreamed up that idea?
If you research the topic, you will find a hundred details of execution rituals that drum on the same theme: in all, the victim (as he was called) was constrained by every means possible to OFFER HIMSELF UP (or to seem to be offering himself) to abuse. Why? Why did one have to kneel down before the executioner and lay his head on the chopping block in even the least cruel form of execution?
In Europe you didn't have the inalienable human right to pursue happiness. It could be taken away from you by the Church or State so you would have to pursue pain instead. That is why you had to give evidence against yourself. That is why you had to offer yourself to torture and execution. Refusal to would be a sin and a crime.
How's that for perverted?
You were declared "out law" (i.e., outside the protection of the law) and condemned to penal servitude. That is a fancy name for enslavement to serve as an object for someone else to punish with abuse. You had to surrender yourself to abuse for that other's "pleasure."
Think what that means. It means that you no longer belong to yourself. Think how it violates the instinct for self-preservation. It's an enforced self-masochism.
This is what our forefathers outlawed with the outlawing of "cruel and unusual punishment." France soon followed suit with the guillotine as a humane form of execution in which the the condemned did not have to offer himself to harm.
This is what rape is all about. It's not about sex: it's about power. Absolute power over another. The rapist demonstrates how powerful he is being on another by forcing the victim to offer herself to abuse. Well, he is deluding himself of course, because these are only copulatory reflexes and not the act of the victim's will. But this is why the victims of rape find it so degrading. It is the ultimate degradation.
Like medieval torturers, serial killers must lay awake nights dreaming up new ways to accomplish the same thing. Always the bottom line is the same though: demonstrate absolute power on the victim by somehow making the victim give themselves up to the abuse. It's the ultimate narcissistic high.
The black art of torture is all about this skill in making the victim offer himself (or seem to offer himself) to the instruments of torture. This is the aspect of torture that torments the victim so for the rest of his or her life.
When you cannot resist, you at least have the comfort of knowing that there was nothing you could do. But when you have the power to put up some resistance and don't - when you in effect say, "Here, take me and do what you will with me" - you feel like an abject worm.
The SHAME is unbearable. No exaggeration: it drives people to suicide.
For, what does it mean when a person accepts pain for another's pleasure? That goes against the instinct for self-preservation. So what happens to the victim's self? The victim no longer belongs to him- or her-self. The victim is possessed by the abuser. Like an arm or leg of his for him to use or abuse as he pleases.
It is the ultimate degradation. The victim ceases to exist as a person. No human being with the ability to resist and a spine will submit to it. You have to (morally) break a person's back to make them docilely submit to abuse.
So, for the sake of the victim's mental health, you must NEVER deny him or her the right to put up a fight.
Denying a person under any kind of assault this right is what theologians call the sin of "extreme perversity," otherwise known as the Sin of Sodom, which a certain kind of rape - RAPE, not sex - is symbolic.
It violates the laws of nature and the innate instinct for self-preservation. If the victim knuckles under to psuedo-moralistic pressure to not lift hand or voice in self defense, he or she will hate themselves and become a suicide risk. That is forcing people to commit the worst breech of faith there is - with one's very self. It's self-betrayal, what Joan of Arc called the "most wretched treason."
The victim NEEDS to know that he or she did what they could to resist their abuser! Don't EVER try to stop the victim from doing that!
Never, never, never preach prime-time morality at the victim making it a sin for him or her to yell right back at the abuser. Though yelling back may not be wise in all cases, it IS the victim's right. It at least lets him or her preserve self-respect through showing a backbone.
The same with any use of force. It is not a sin. It may not be wise in some cases, but it IS the victim's right. Only very recently has the word violence been used to describe the use of force in self defense. It isn't rightly (or legally) "violence" because it doesn't violate anything.
The same with resistance through divorcing the poor, little, sad and lonely narcissist, through abandoning the abuser, or through running away from home or skipping school. The victim has the right to self-preservation and the pursuit of happiness. Always.
If you really want to help, suggest better, more effective ways to resist. But don't ever just sit there and say, "Don't do this" and "Don't do that". Buzz off if that's all you have to say.
In fact, by making it evil for the victim to fight back or escape in any conceivable way, the holier-than-thous clamp the valves shut on a pressure cooker. Sooner or later something's gotta give. The victim WILL eventually snap. Then you have a suicide or homicide as a result. And the holier-than-thou bystanders who had persecuted the victim into docile submission with their immoral moralizing share a large part of the blame.
You can tell that the holier-than-thous are insincere. Pay attention to how much wind they spend on criticizing the abuser compared to how much wind they spend on criticizing the victim. You'll find the ratio is about 99:1.
They preface their remarks with something like, "Well there's is no excuse for what he did but..." and off they go on a faultfinding expedition.
When they're done, add up all the fault found. Who was found in? All fault found in the victim for fighting back. Not one word about what the abuser did.
They should be examining their own consciences, not the victim's, because what they are doing is very wrong and very, very damaging to an already abused victim. And they are serving the abuser, helping him to abuse and get away with it.
By Kathy Krajco, "What Makes Narcissists Tick" blog.
Here's a quote from my favourite malignant narcissist and neighbourhood cult leader...
"A failure to bring real life can lead to personal, temperamental disquiet - and to the use of angry or pathetic dispositions to gain attention. Law-users fasten on to issues of hurt, injury, abuse or injustice as the basis for maintaining their anger, all in pursuit of being right. Sadly, they can become so committed to their status as victims, that they are obliged to maintain their emotional stance, and often become victimisers of others".
The 'others' that he is referring to in that last sentence is actually a reference to his bad self. He doesn't like it when people actually accuse him of being a bad person. The mind boggles when you realise that he is actually an abuser of mass destruction and has broken up dozens of families and marriages simply because one of the spouses didn't agree with him.
Yet here, he is outlining his defense against those who would defend themselves against him. They are just hurt, legalistic victims who end up becoming abusive themselves because they just can't 'get over it and get a life'.Not only that, but he just can't stand it when his victims actually won't just give up and go away and become committed to their cause of self-preservation and justice for their plight.
The nerve of some people.
Thanks for posting this, Anna!
I 'flashed' immediately to a couple of things from my earlier years with Nmom. Whenever I disagreed, stalled, was 'impudent', or had an 'attitude' about something, she would call me a REBEL. O-My-Gawd...you gotta believe me..the things were so very, very minor. To be 'rebellious' (to me) was to be evil and hell-bent....to have turned my face from God...etc. I would cry and feel so guilty that I wished I were dead. I would literally grovel to get back into 'good graces' with her. I was so rarely 'disobedient'....but I just could NOT 'make' myself always agree. Makes me cry to think about it now.
Worse yet, it wasn't 'just' obedience that was required.....I had to AGREE verbally,in actions, and in 'spirit' with what I had 'stalled' on. Nmom would NOT let it go until she felt satisfied that she had sufficiently broken me down into submission. This is awful....just awful.
It makes me sad that I wasn't stronger when I was young....that I didn't 'rebel' and figure it all out later. But, 'rebellion' would have meant I had to run away at about age 9!!!!
Even in this past year, she had referred to me as 'always a rebellious one'....I didn't date, I didn't smoke, I didn't drink, I didn't curse....I didn't sleep around.....I just don't get it. What the hell's WRONG with that witch? Worse yet....what the hell was WRONG with ME?!!! Haha...
Sorry to be venting again....damn! (I cuss now....a LOT!)
I came across this book review, coincidentally right after reading your post this morning. The book, While They Slept: An Inquiry Into a Murder of a Family, by Kathryn Harrison, recounts an extremely grim story. It relates directly and offers fascinating insight into the topic of "self-preservation under narcissistic abuse."
During the past two years I attended a 12-step program for alcohol abuse....which was helpful...but only up to a point. (Yes....I haven't touched a drop in over two years....Yay!) Unfortunately, even the 12-steppers seem stuck on 'forgiving', 'not pointing the finger', being 'nice'.....and I understand that self-examination is crucial for healing...but GAWD!!!! It seems that there was more time spent trying to make ME the eternal 'problem' for getting my hackles up when pressed to drop the subject regarding this form of abuse as a factor in my life. Somehow, I was supposed to make 'amends' to the perps for my anger and behaviours surrounding the abuse....that I was 'harbouring resentments and bitterness'. Something about 'hating authority'. (Ya think?) So....I twisted off from them. And duh....I'm still NOT drinking....and have no itch to.....which I was told most likely WOULD happen if I didn't give up my stance on the matter....that I was still 'blaming'. Gawd....Gag. I'm just not 'blaming' MYSELF anymore, for Pete'sSake!!!!
All I wanted was some validation....not some more shit on my head.
One of the most destructive things I was taught was to never defend myself, that by defending myself I was buying into the abuser's shame.
I was taught to be "the bigger person." Which really means to deself and make the other person's agenda/feelings more important than mine.
I was taught to "not take it personally" But it is personal and in group dynamics made me the easy scapegoat.
What I was taught has not worked well for me.
Very interesting personal observations about the 12-step program, krl. I'm glad you shared it. There is much that is not right about 12-step programs. If you're interested in a Christian perspective on the 12-step thang, I recommend you go here:
I think you'll find that someone else's research backs up your perspective.
All I wanted was some validation....not some more shit on my head.
Hear, hear. Right on.
Hey, congratulations on your sobriety!
That is quite an artful piece of work by your "neighborhood cult leader". Tucked into all that mumbo jumbo is his escape hatch from responsibility for his actions. Love it: "law-users". Sheeeesh. Hold a narcissist to the law and you're a "law-user" as if the law is just a bunch of words to be ignored and not an essential part of a social contract between human beings to preserve rights, dignity and personal freedom.
This guy is the devil himself, ain't he.
KRL, "Somehow, I was supposed to make 'amends' to the perps for my anger and behaviours surrounding the abuse...."
KRL, I relate - something really off here. I felt retraumatized by a friend who was in the HOW Overeaters Anonymous program and another in AA when I was victimized and they blamed me. They think they are being "spiritual" when they are actually being abusive.
This is why I followed Kathy's blog. Kathy was never afraid to express her views, no holds barred. She wasn't politically correct. She was just correct.
Wasn't there a song that said, "Walk a mile in my shoes before you criticize and abuse"?
This reminds me of Ariel in The Little Mermaid. Ariel lost her voice to an evil one, but got it back. Kathy found her voice, and gave others permission to take their voices back.
It just occured to me this morning
their real crime towards me was
they implanted the idea that I was the needy one . My siblings have looked down their noses at me for as long as I can remember . I wasnt the needy one - I was their
mother when ours was drunk stoned
or just not interested . I took care of parental units for a decade
virtually alone . I didnt and dont need them - they needed me
to be cinderella, to scapegoat to
heap their general nastiness upon
and to blame.
KRL - I went to al non ONCE
my 1st husband was alcoholic -
I was never so furious in my life
first they labeled me co dependent after knowing me all of five minutes and then insisted
i was enabling his behavior
Neither of which was true .
At the time I was looking for answers not realizing he was NPD
and the alcohol was just a sympton
of that .
Instead I got more false labels
and once again someone elses
reality shoved down my throat .
I am a recovering member of both AA and OA--meaning I know my reality & nature is the propensity to abuse alchohol and use food as my drug of choice. All forms of self-medication from the pain of narcissistic abuse imposed on me my entire life. I now live a sober & clean lifestyle-one day at a time. At times it has been one minute at a time. Yet my strong faith & the grace granted me through that, as well as contiually working the program(& I DO mean WORK) has lead me to where I am today. By the grace of God, I haven't touched a drop of alchohol in almost 24 yrs-since my 20's, when my drinking almost killed me.
I also no longer touch sugar. Nothing short of a miracle. We not only have 12 steps, we have 12 traditions to abide by. One thing we say is "principles not personalities." No one speaks for AA (or OA). We are all in it to heal && help each other heal. Not many people have been blessed by the information in Anna's & Kathy's blogs--we are all finding out how to heal ourselves from the N's in our lives. Often other people out there, as we know,invalidate our right to defend ourselves or go NC, or both. It's such a radical concept to the world, as we don't wear physical bruises as much as emotional scars. I know what you're referring to in the "making amends", but what I've found that step to mean is EXAMINING my OWN behaviour patterns in my dealings with the N's in my life.That has been an enormous growth in my life. To understand my own "character defects" in how I gave up my self to compensate for their evil requirements of me, to live in peace. It was in working those steps, (more than once, by the way), that I came to unravel so many "layers of the onion" to come to the healthy place of NC I live today. To allow me the strength to respond to Anna's wisdom, with ACTION in my life. And without alchohol or food. My wish for you is to NOT GIVE UP on the 12-step program. There's so much it has to give you if you stick around long enough-which for me will be my whole life, God willing. They say don't leave BEFORE the miracle happens. I believe the 12-step program of Alchoholics Anonymous is God's gift to the 20th century & beyond. I'd have been long dead without it.God Bless You All!! Katrina
Congratulations on your recovery
I concede that AA and Al non
have helped many . My only point was its not the answer for everyone
I found their approach offensive and inaccurate .
I found real help with a licensed
psychologist . Was money well spent
Thanks for posting that!
Like besee, I was also raised not to defend myself. NM wanted her children to be "bad" and/or victimized, so she could always be right and stronger. She would tell us scary things that exist in the world but not how to defend ourselves against those things. We were supposed to suck up everything and even take the blame for being victimized.
I had a stalker once who was much older than I and who began to use threatening language. I had just turned 18, so was legally an adult. My parents would not accompany me to make the complaint at the police station. I was terrified, and my father knew the police chief so could have helped me out. Both parents thought I should just leave it alone, and said I was stirring up trouble. In the end the complaint is the one thing that stopped the stalking and threatening.
My parents would call me rebel as well, and "too independent". I thought being independent was a good thing, the goal of adulthood. But to them it was a terrible thing and made me a nasty ungrateful daughter.
Apologists exist. Hitler had apologists.
Why do some people love to blame the victim? Because blaming the victim is easier than admitting their role in the crime.
Deflect the blame onto the victim, and no one looks at you.
Reading these comments today has given me so much to contemplate. We have so many different issues & circumstances--yet out commonality is what stands out:we are all survivors of abuse at the hands of narcissists. I am so grateful that we have all found this safe place to come together & validate each other & what we have suffered. No matter where we turn in the "outside" world--we will find those who don't understand. How could they? I too ran into many people in the 12 step programs who suggested ways of dealing with my abusers differently than I have come to deal with them, with the help of Anna, Kathy, & all of you.
I too have found some relief through professional counselors, though they have mostly served as a springboard onto my own pathway of intelligent reasoning. Yet all the reasoning in the world would be useless without the emotional fortitude I have gained through combining the experiences of the past with the support & wisdom on this blog. Thank you, Anna! You are a hero. Krl, Besee & Toni--I sure related to your experiences. Thanks for sharing. That whole "Rebel" thing. I was also labeled & my herd of siblings look down their noses at me now. Why were we never allowed to BE ourselves? Defend ourselves? Or taught how to do things in the world if it wasn't "their way" ?
It's evil. I'm a much better person for persisting in my own identity--even if it did take decades & having to find my way back from the precipice, alone. I never was really alone, as my Catholic faith kept the Lord as my focal point through it all. I am coming to believe that the majority of the people out there will not understand this evil we suffer, so its sometimes prudent to not try to make them. Its like beating our head against a wall. As long as we can come here & know WE are not the crazy ones, & learn by Anna's example how to live sane & happy lives without taking on the toxic poison of the N's & the bystanders--then life is grand!!
On the overall topic of defense -
I studied a martial art for many years as an adult. Naturally, my N family found this really threatening [gee, I might get self esteem] and simply refused allow it to ever be a topic of discussion.
But another thing I found disturbing was this: many seemingly regular people after finding out about my practice would make remarks to the effect of "but you seem like a nice person"
HELLO??? A slight woman in a big city is considered... say what? Less then "nice" to learn how to avoid being victimized?
N's are bad enough I know, but what is it with this culture?
Par for the course! Labels, labels, labels.Our culture is a ripe playground for N's to thrive, as so many bystanders are willing to be judgemental & self righteous, which helps our N's perpetuate their filth. Persist in being yourself! I just love the part about how your family won't even allow a CONVERSATION about your martial art. Good ole' stonewalling at its best! My siblings are the same way (learned from Nmom).Any of my "rebelliousness" can't be acknowledged. Which has included, over the years, my choices of friends,dress,career,company,hairdo,religious beliefs, political beliefs,organizations, hobbies, husband,decisions to have children,where to send my children to school, recovery programs & support groups,blah blah blah ad nauseum. When I finally was blessed with the miracle of abstaining from sugar--my mother continued to sabotage me at family dinners by saturating the fresh fruit bowl in it--the only dessert I could've eaten. Talk about INVALIDATION!! What chance do we have to develop a healthy self image?!! Then they wonder why I've gone NC! LOL!I guard this blog jealously from any roving eyes that could possibly get it back to any of them! Here I take my medicine everyday: "Its not me, its them."
"They should be examining their own consciences, not the victim's, because what they are doing is very wrong and very, very damaging to an already abused victim. And they are serving the abuser, helping him to abuse and get away with it."
I was just re-reading the article. It is so sharp and insightful. What my two supposed friends did was very wrong. Of course, I feel rage not only about what happened, by how I was judged and condemned by my "friends."
Thank you all for commenting on your experiences and giving information regarding the 12-step groups. I'm slowly wading my way through what has been said. Veryvery interesting.
Katrina...Thank you for your comments. I DO want to say that if it weren't for attending the 12-step program, I most likely would not have been lead to anything about narcissism etc. It really, truly was helpful....and it has helped many people. I knew going into it that I would take from it what I needed and most likely leave the rest. I went to STOP drinking. Period. I didn't go to 'join'....to 'make friends'...to 'fill my time'. I didn't go to learn to be responsible etc. I knew how to work, pay my bills, be a good mother and grandmother. (BTW...I didn't drink until I was done raising kids....I married a drinker after them and started 'relaxing'. HooBoy...Bet you know what happened to us! I wasn't 'fun' anymore...so he be gone.) After several weeks there, my INNER commitment was to TRUTH and REALITY....not the program. I believed in God....I believed in Jesus...I believed that I could not...and would not...without Him....I believed in Him before, during, and after drinking. The 'miracle' for me was not so much to quit drinking, but to be able to look this Nbeast in the eye and call it by name. It is the one demon I shadowboxed all these years. Being sober and that commitment to Truth sure opened my eyes to what a LIE is. Yours, mine, and theirs. God is Good.
So....I HEAR you about the pluses in the 12-steps. No problem with them as to living as a decent person....and there ARE people out there who wouldn't know 'decent' if it bit them in the butt....and the 12 steps are an excellent guideline in that direction...and an excellent 'refresher' for some of us who forgot. Know what I mean?
Krl, yes, I do believe I know what you mean. Everything you said made sense. I too went to AA to quit drinking. We make friends in the darndest places, don't we? After I became sober, all the other gifts were added to me.(Sound familiar?) I turned to God in my darkest hour,and He led me to AA. Then all the other gifts sprang from my sobriety. The Promises all came true for me. God continues to work miracles in my life. Finding Anna's blog 2 yrs. ago was another one. These past 2 yrs. have been extremely intense in respect to my N-family & gradually going NC with more & more of the. In LEARNING how to live NC, in baby steps. Just like my early sobriety & learning to live in this world sober. Yes, God is good! God Bless!
I was also raised not to defend myself, not to make any waves, and that there was good in everyone. For those who believe that there is good in everyone, they surely have never crossed paths with a narcissist.
I spent 20 years in the company of someone I thought was a good friend. I was lied to and lied about, we're talking total character assassination that I didn't discover until the damage was done. I was left waiting at the bar of a restaurant for an hour on my birthday, until I realized he was not going to show up. Then there were the Christmases where he blew me off because he had gotten a better offer. When my father died, he didn't go to the wake or the funeral. He made up an excuse that he couldn't bear to attend the wake because it reminded him too much of his own father who passed away 18 years ago, and he wouldn't be able to attend the funeral, because he had to work. When my child was hospitalized with a life threatening illness, my N acted as if it were a skinned knee.
Suddenly everything rotten thing he had ever done to me bubbled to the surface. I was so angry, I let him know what a monster he was and how I was no longer going to tolerate his bad behavior or his lies. I got an unlisted phone number, deleted his emails, and tore up the letters he sent without opening them. It's been six blissful years without the drama, the lies, or the emotional rollercoaster. I could have spared myself a boatload of grief had I been able to put a name to it years ago.
Thank you so much for this article.
I am a child of a NP mother and I married a NP. Married for 27 yrs when he just walked out the door with my 2 younger children one evening.
My ex became very verbally and emotionally abusive and did all the crazy making behavior and then called me crazy when I would call him on it.The last two years I was finished putting up with his lies and abuse. I began to express my anger at him in the form of yelling. While there may have been a better alternative I should of taken ..at the time I didn't care and I felt like I was fighting for what little bit of sanity and self respect I had left.
As I have tried to begin the healing process over the last yr I have been told on numerous occasions by church leaders and my NP mother that I should not be angry..I should just forget what he did to me and get over it. I feel abused all over again by these people. My ex continues to exhibit his abusive behaviors against me and at times the anger boils over. I could kill this man at times.
At the present time I have told him to not ever come to my house to pick up my daughter again.I will meet him at the police station to do the exchange of daughter. This is not so much for my safety as it is to prevent me from physically attacking my ex. It is a protective measure so I do not wind up getting arrested...which he would delight in.Sick bastard!
I have been to several therapist and they have less advice and help for me than I do myself.
Thank you for speaking up for us ..the victims of these freaks.
You ever relize that if you are a victim of abuse you are not allowed to say so. Instead , to make everyone else more comfortable you have to say ...I am not a victim ..I am a survivor !
Thank you Anna and Barbara for posting pieces from Kathy's blog every now and again.
I just noticed that Kathy's Main Websites
http://www.narcissism.operationdoubles.com/ have disappeared and there's displayed:
This domain has temporarily been disabled.
To restore the domain, please contact Customer Service.
Please call 703-986-3116
I'm not sure what this means, but suppose that Kathy's Main Websites will no longer be available because the domain has not been prolonged ...
I don't know anything about domains and I'm not able to call there; feel quite helpless and unable to do anything in order to extend Kathy's domain ...
Sorry Anna, I don't know where to place this else ...
Hope you are well,
best wishes, Tobi
I know someone who was aware that Kathy's main site domain was set to expire soon. She is doing what she can to grab the domain name so she can put Kathy's content back up. We'll see what happens.
Thank you, Anna.
I wish her all the best and that her effort will turn out well.
Kind regards, Tobi
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